Movie News

Composer Shirley Walker Is Gone

Published at: Nov. 30, 2006, 9:09 p.m. CST by merrick

ScoreKeeper here with sad news. Veteran film and television composer Shirley Walker passed away Wednesday evening after suffering a brain aneurism. She was 61. Shirley Walker is probably most well-known for her scoring contributions to the television series “Batman: The Animated Series” (1992-95), “Superman: The Animated Series” (1996-00), “The New Batman Adventures” (1997-99) and “Batman Beyond” (1999-01) as well as her outstanding original film scores for MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN (1992), BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (1993), ESCAPE FROM L.A. (1996), FINAL DESTINATION (2000), FINAL DESTINATION 2 (2003), WILLARD (2003), and FINAL DESTINATION 3 (2006). Shirley had a long relationship with Danny Elfman serving as his conductor for SCROOGED (1988), BATMAN (1989), NIGHTBREED (1990), DICK TRACY (1990), EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990) and ARTICLE 99 (1992). She also worked extensively with Hans Zimmer as both an orchestrator and conductor on a host of his films including BLACK RAIN (1989), BIRD ON A WIRE (1990), PACIFIC HEIGHTS (1990), BACKDRAFT (1991), TOYS (1992), A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (1992) as well as TRUE LIES (1994) and JOHNNY MNEMONIC (1995) for Brad Fiedel. In an industry dominated by men, Shirley helped open doors for women in film music. Her influence was strong and will not be forgotten. We here at AICN would like to extend our condolences to Shirley’s family and friends during this difficult time. She will surely be missed. - ScoreKeeper

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  • Nov. 30, 2006, 9:15 p.m. CST

    First :(

    by HyperKnight23

    Very Sad.

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 9:15 p.m. CST

    another unsung hero

    by duct tape wallet

    sadly gone now.

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 9:16 p.m. CST

    That's some credit list

    by tiredpm

    It reads like a Christmas DVD present list for me, so I'm saddened by her passing. My condolences to her family and friends.

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 9:20 p.m. CST

    Damn

    by FilmCritic3000

    R.I.P. You will be sorely missed, Miss Walker.

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 9:32 p.m. CST

    OOOOO MAAAAAAAAAAN

    by THE KNIGHT

    The opening score to Mask of the Phantasm has got to be one of the greatest scores... It beautiful and haunting... RIP... so sad...

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 9:37 p.m. CST

    She did the score for the Crying Game also

    by spookymulder

    I would actually say that score was her best. She was very talented, may she rest in Peace.

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 9:39 p.m. CST

    Aw, man.

    by Dave_F

    In my head, I'm hearing the closing music of the first Batman: The Animated Series episode to feature Mr. Freeze. Freeze is in prison holding the snow globe that represents his wife to him, and as we fade to black, its music-box melody slowly transitions into the heartfelt strains of violins...

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 9:47 p.m. CST

    Batman Animated

    by ABVH

    that was some goooooood sound... She will be missed

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 9:50 p.m. CST

    Jeez

    by ed exley

    Don’t post much at all, but have to here, met a guy who works in the scoring biz a while back who agreed she never got her due, and it's true, made Batman sound like we'd always dreamed... Cue up Mask of the Phantasm, followed by Hans Zimmer's Vespertillio, then Elfman's Batman for pure Bat-joy, they fit together like you wouldn't believe

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 9:57 p.m. CST

    ohh god noo!!

    by nolan bautista

    she was so good in The Partridge Family!!

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 10 p.m. CST

    Classy

    by ed exley

    unless your confusing ur shirleys, bite a fat one, you know you love it

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 10:04 p.m. CST

    Rest In Peace Oh Talented One....

    by Pez_Pirate

    She was majestically talented in my opinion.... Besides all the Batman, Batman Beyond, and the Phantasm work she did, she also did a bulk of the musical work on Space: Above and Beyond. Her efforts set the mood for so many great works on both sets of screens, its a shame she'll never receive all the credit and praise she so richly deserves for her glorious work over the last 20 years. God Speed, "Wildcard" Walker.

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 10:08 p.m. CST

    Leave our film composers alone!

    by Osmosis Jones

    What have we done to deserve losing Michael Kamen, Jerry Goldsmith, David Raksin, Elmer Bernstein, Basil Poledouris and now Walker within a three-year period? Walker always deserved the big-screen action assignments that she was often forced to only orchestrate and conduct on (imagine Walker scoring True Lies instead of Fiedel?) due to her gender, and the fact that little of her work is available on CD makes her loos even more keen, as there's not much I can throw in the CD player to remember her by. Fuck, this really hurts. Farewell, Shirley. :(

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 10:10 p.m. CST

    The Flash

    by blacklodgebob

    I first heard her work for The Flash TV show in the early 90's, great stuff. So sad to see another great composer go.

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 10:11 p.m. CST

    One of my favorite composers

    by NivekJ

    The news of her death comes right on the heels of Basil Poledouris' passing. I always admired Shirley Walker's ability to distill character into score; she was never blatant, but you could always tell which character was motivating the scene due to her music. Even when she scored the DC comics' cartoons, she always viewed them as characters with scores of their own. I didn't think she would pass away while still being so active in her career. Film music lovers have lost another great. Michael Kamen, Jerry Goldsmith, Poledouris. While you can, congratulate and let people know that you appreciate what they do. And I don't mean this as a fear-motivated backpatting thing, I mean this as someone who truly appreciated the artwork but never got the chance to let the artist know who he felt. To the artist, the work itself was congratulations and reward enough, and I take solace in that, as should her family and friends. But film score gets almost no respect, no sales, and no attention. The best scores enhance the film and never call attention to itself; therefore they are left ignored and mostly the film takes the credit for the emotional underpinnings that, in truth, directors or actors can't always muster. I hope we have more women composers; I hope we have more women in cinema period. I'm glad Shirley opened the door, and I'll miss her music.

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 10:23 p.m. CST

    Still can't believe it.

    by Darkman

    Poledouris and now Walker. Eerily, they were the same age (61). In all seriousness, I hope Broughton's feeling healthy. And spookymulder, that was Anne Dudley who did CRYING GAME.

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 10:24 p.m. CST

    unbelievable

    by werideatdusk

    The opening theme to "Mask of the Phantasm," as well as the score in the whole series, is some of the best music in any cartoon, ever. Wonderfully moody and gothic. This is terrible news.

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 10:43 p.m. CST

    sad news

    by Evil Hobbit

    she will be missed

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 11 p.m. CST

    A damn fine woman and a brilliant composer...

    by BV

    She will be missed greatly. Rest in peace Shirley.

  • Nov. 30, 2006, 11:22 p.m. CST

    El Scorcho...fuck you.

    by Osmosis Jones

    Why not just walk into a stranger's funeral in progress and yell "Who IS this person? Why bother with this? It's depressing!"

  • Dec. 1, 2006, midnight CST

    Very Sad

    by DarthJedi

    Wow, I had no idea she had done so much. She will definitely be missed.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 12:12 a.m. CST

    Tidbit

    by clone-o-mat

    I remember buying the Batman Beyond sountrack and reading in the liner notes that they originally weren't going to invite Shirley to work on the show because they wanted a more techno feel for the series. Shirley said she understood, but asked for at least a crack at it. She went home Friday and came back Monday with the theme we all know and love for Batman Beyond. The rest is history. We'll miss you Shirley. You were an absolutely brilliant artist. You will be missed.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 12:30 a.m. CST

    That's really too bad.

    by team america

    While I was never familiar with her work on the Batman series by name, the music on that show was quite memorable nevertheless. Regardless, her name first popped out at me with the "Final Destination" series which, despite being a fairly piss-poor example of a horror series, had some really effective, eerie scores working in their favor. I'm not lying when I say that I believe they're some of the only redeeming features of those films, and it's a shame that we won't get to hear any more of her work.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 12:43 a.m. CST

    To repeat

    by Saluki

    The statement from the author above, the opening to Mask of the Phantasm is simply majestic. Likely the best theme the character ever had.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 1:12 a.m. CST

    The Black Stallion...

    by Bones

    She also wrote additional music for that film, while Carmine Coppola handled the major themes. She was the synthesist for Apocalypse Now, which was where Coppola first noticed her.<p> Someone else mentioned Space: Above and Beyond, which is a television score that stays with you--I have an mp3 of the 8-minute Suite from that show that I listen too with great frequency. And of course, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, which I literally bought immediately after seeing the film in '93. The best Batman score of all time. Period. As an arranger and conductor, she with Steve Bartok helped Danny Elfman find his voice...and she was the first woman to have sole composer credit in a film with Memoirs of an Invisible man, which although not a great film--has a wicked great score. <p> Thanks for the musical accompaniment for my life, Shirley.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 2:31 a.m. CST

    What a talent.

    by Azlam Orlandu

    I hate to sound like a frontrunner, so I'll admit that I never knew who she was. But after finding out who she is makes me miss her even more. I'm a huge fan of most of those works and she will be missed.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 2:42 a.m. CST

    Memoirs of An Invisible Man

    by pammybabe

    The score was actually the best thing about this movie.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 3:16 a.m. CST

    By far the best thing about ESCAPE FROM LA

    by Flim_

    was her score. It's truly a shame she's gone.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 3:24 a.m. CST

    SIGH

    by Bruce Leroy

    This saddens me...She never got the credit she deserved. Her scores for tv shows are a work of art and not background filler like a lot of sc-fi shows have these days. I love her movie work as well.Especially her score for Willard. I will miss her and her music so much...My god, this saddens me. Rest in peace Shirley. Thank you for your music.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 3:27 a.m. CST

    Sad news

    by Steve Rogers

    Her work on Batman TAS and the Flash show back when I was a kid was awesome. RIP Shirley, you will be missed.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 5:29 a.m. CST

    One of the best things you do at this site, Harry...

    by Moonwatcher

    is remember those who may not have the same name recognition as other, more famous personalities. I didn't know Ms. Walker, but the titles in her catalog should jump out at anyone calling themselves a film fan. Thanks for your work, Shirley, and go with God - 61 is far too soon to go, nowadays.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 6:03 a.m. CST

    Nooooo!!!

    by CuervoJones

    She was great. Best Batman theme ever.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 6:38 a.m. CST

    Best Composer for anything Batman

    by brit3424

    Shirley Walker composed the best music for Batman. Is Dark, hauting, but still heroic. I loved mask of the Phantasm even more because of the soundtrack. Once and a while "MOTP" music was slipped into Batman Beyond whenever Bruce would go back into action! Goodbye Shirley, you will be missed!

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 7:22 a.m. CST

    RIP

    by Spyhunter

    Rest in peace Shirley Walker, I loved your work. :(

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 8:38 a.m. CST

    So sad

    by amrisharmpit

    Of the movies she worked on that I have seen, I liked the scores for every single one of them. This is a tragic passing. She will be missed.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 8:38 a.m. CST

    Why?

    by Keo

    I've lurked for a long time but never felt compelled to register until now. We've been losing too many (and too many talented) composers recently. It's so sad to see another go. Rest in peace, Shirley.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 8:42 a.m. CST

    Has anyone mentioned Hans Zimmer and MotPh?

    by JasonPratt

    I will sure miss her work--not least because in _Mask of the Phantasm_ she demonstrated where she was borrowing her Batman theme from: a Christian mass! (Orthodox Batman! {ggg!} Russian or Greek? Can anyone make out the lyrics?) *** Anyway, while reading through the liners to the album seeing if there was any clue to the answer to _that_ question, I stumbled on a production credit for the score, from none other than Hans Zimmer! This tickled my fan-ishness immensely. *** God rest and keep you, Shirley. We'll miss you.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 9:08 a.m. CST

    Wow. First Basil, now Shirley Walker

    by Mr Incredible

    I really enjoyed her music. What a loss.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 9:19 a.m. CST

    Didn't Shirley Walker also score Todd mcFarlene's Spawn

    by Johnno

    ? It wasn't anything memorable... but, thoguht I'd toss that in there, unless I'm mistaken...

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 9:32 a.m. CST

    Isn't she the 5th composer to die recently?

    by StovetopStuffin'

    I love the old batman animated series score. I remember the first time it came on, I was in my freshman year of high school, and that whole intro. The music, the hard lined shadows, all of it. I knew it was gonna be something new and different.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 10:17 a.m. CST

    wow.

    by tango fett

    I just watched Mask of the Phantasm last night, and like many of you I also believe that one of the most affective parts of the movie is the score. Especially the opening credits, which is easily the best Batman music EVER. or, it's at least up there. anyways, rest in peace Shirley Walker.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 10:52 a.m. CST

    I had no idea who this was...

    by Doctor_Sin

    But now that I know I am extremely sad. :( What great music!

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 11:21 a.m. CST

    BATMAN ANIMATED SERIES soundtrack

    by SamBluestone

    Man, I just wish they could have put out more CDs of her wonderful work for BTAS. Her themes for Two-Face and Mr. Freeze were just haunting.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 11:56 a.m. CST

    A true lost

    by blindambition238

    Wow, this news was definatly one I wasn't expecting. As far as I'm concerned the world's not only lost a great composer, but the Batman universe, and by proxy the comic universe has lost one of its greatest contributors. It's amamzing how in the recent big budget comic book films that have come out in the none were able to create a memorable score or theme for their heroses and stories (Elfman's work on Spider-man not withstanding maybe); but Shirley Walker and her outstanding work on BTAS managed to create memorable themes for every single character and sequence that appeared on the show. Then there's her amazing, and much lauded, score for Mask of the Phantasm which managed to capture everything you needed to know about Batman's heroic but tragic nature in a haunting but beautiful tune. I was truely disappointed when I found out that Shirley Walker wouldn't be involved with Batman Begins, and even more so when I saw the film with it's modest score. I've been a lifelong fan of Batman, but the animated series was the thing that brought me into it and stuck with me, and as far as I'm concerned is probably the best non-comic representation of the Batman mythos- which is why to this day and after, whenever I pick up a Batman comic or graphic novel, I always hear 2 things in my head: Kevin Conroy's voice growling from under the cowl, and Shirley Walker's theme as he saves the day. R.I.P.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 12:29 p.m. CST

    I couldn't have siad it better than Dave_F

    by The Heathen

    Man, she will be missed. My thoughts are with her family and friends. She brought a lot of joy into my life with her work.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 12:32 p.m. CST

    Wow.

    by radio1_mike

    Bummer. It's too bad that people like Ms. Walker only get exposure when they die; when what they do can be so important in the film. Scores really breathe life and emotion into every film.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 1 p.m. CST

    Thanks for censoring me...

    by El Scorcho

    God forbid someone dissent.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 1:15 p.m. CST

    Dissent on what?

    by jesuschrist

    Way to take a bold stand! "Fuck Shirley Walker and... all her...composing?... right. Yeah, look at me! I'm a rebel! I spoke out against a composer! Balls!" doooooouche...

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 1:23 p.m. CST

    Very sad...

    by Tal111

    she added so much to the shows and films she worked on.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 2:10 p.m. CST

    Darkman

    by spookymulder

    Ack!!! I goofed!!! My bad, I got them mixed up. Thanks for the correction and also, thanks for not being a prick about it.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 3:44 p.m. CST

    A true talent....

    by RobinP

    being a kid of the sixties, I always associated "Batman" with the Neil Hefti theme. In the nineties, that changed with Shirley Walker's gothic themes. That music encapsulates what Batman is all about. I often play the CD of Mask of the Phantasm. She ranks, in talent, with the legendary likes of Bernard Herrmann, Franz Waxman and Max Steiner. She will be missed. Rest in peace, and thank you. Respectfully.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 4:26 p.m. CST

    She was a lovely woman.

    by tvz

    I worked with her on all three scores for FINAL DESTINATION. But even before that, I knew of her work from MASK OF THE PHANTASM. And did you know she was the first woman in Hollywood history to write and conduct a feature film score for a major studio? The shock is that it was MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN in 1992. Besides having a prodigious musical ability, she was always nothing less than polite, energetic, courteous and enthusiastic. The orchestras LOVED her, and would literally do anything she asked. Tragically, her husband passed less than a year ago. If there is any good from this sad moment in film history, it is that Shirley and her husband are now reunited.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 6:58 p.m. CST

    Sucks

    by Zeldas

    Batman the Animated Series is one of my favorite scores ever. The music was always so perfect for the tone of the show. Sad day for the music communty.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 7:13 p.m. CST

    Thanks for mentioning S:AAB, N. Jones...

    by Roguewriter

    Wow, Poledouris and now Shirley Walker. A black period for film music, that's for sure. RIP, Shirley.

  • Dec. 1, 2006, 10:05 p.m. CST

    this is sad news.

    by yeah i'm a jerk!

    one of the great things about the batman animated series as well as the series' that followed in it's wake, was the fabulous score that never ceased to build suspense, and give a dramatic edge that most live action shows don't have. shirley walker will be missed.

  • Dec. 2, 2006, 1:24 a.m. CST

    One of my fave composers

    by Ecto-1

    This is so sad. She was one of my fave composers. My thoughts go out to her friends and family.

  • Dec. 2, 2006, 3:53 a.m. CST

    I was waiting...

    by readingwriter

    ...for her to get the opportunity to really make a splash on a huge Oscar-worthy blockbuster. I'm not putting her down, I'm just saying her career was one that always seemed on the verge of breaking through...but it never did break through to the point where she was regularly getting big films and the rewards that followed. Her scores had a punch that I've only heard in those of Goldsmith, Williams and Elmer Bernstein--orchestral power with melodicism, not just punctuations of brass and synths. Her talents were used on bad material which she elevated--what else can you say about someone that talented who had to compose excellent music for Memoirs of an Invisible Man? Like Poledouris with the exceptions of Conan and Lonesome Dove, and Broughton with the exceptions of Silverado and Young Sherlock Holmes, she had so much goddamned potential to compose scores that were foreground elements of cinema, not "background scores". God damn, Kamen, Raksin, Bernstein, GOLDSMITH, Poledouris, Walker... God damn...

  • Dec. 2, 2006, 4:43 p.m. CST

    so sad

    by NNNOOO!!!

    Nothing much to say, just adding to the INVISIBLE MAN love here. Great score.

  • Dec. 2, 2006, 5:09 p.m. CST

    Underrated.

    by Christopher3

    For cartoon music, she didn't hold back at all. Too bad she didn't get to do more with live-action features.

  • Dec. 3, 2006, 9:20 a.m. CST

    Black Christmas indeed

    by Mark Plunkett

    Shirley was kind and very beautiful. She will be remembered with deep love by her family, her friends and her fans.

  • Dec. 3, 2006, 8:25 p.m. CST

    Space:Above and Beyond

    by Elcabio

    Her awesome scores set a very suspenseful and gripping mood for the series. A definite loss for all of us. Rest In Peace Shirley.

  • Dec. 4, 2006, 12:29 a.m. CST

    I had not realized...

    by chrisd

    she had done so much. I always appreciated her work: I liked her Superman theme. You could almost hear the words "Superman! Superman! It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman!" when you listened to it. And apparently her last work was, or was going to be, DC: The New Frontier. Thanks for all your fine works. Rest in Peace indeed.

  • Dec. 4, 2006, 1:27 a.m. CST

    Batman Animated Crime

    by paperbag

    Why is Shirley Walker's opus for Batman the Animated Series not available in a deluxe ten disc collection available for purchase? When she did a commentary for one of the episodes on DVD, she mentioned that she has all the music stored on CDs. Maybe now Warner Bros will get behind this one and distribute them just as Shirley hoped. Shirley Walker's music from this series still echos in my mind. She nailed The Joker.

  • Dec. 4, 2006, 10:32 a.m. CST

    Crap, just found out about this...

    by ComputerGuy68

    I loved her scores, to me she took the Elfman style and made it better. I wish she had more of the films that Danny had done, (since his pretty much all just sound like Batman rehashed).

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